VA Admits Vet Suicide Rates Are High

SouthernBelle's picture

First, let me say this: When Veterans come home with "Invisible Wounds" they still need help. Without proper mental health care and treatment those wounds will become very visible. Does a Veteran have to commit or attempt to commit suicide to get the proper care? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING, and WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?!

(CBS) CBS News investigative producer Pia Malbran wrote this story for

Last year, at about this time, officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) claimed veterans were not at an increased risk for suicide but now, after facing a series of investigative stories by CBS News, a massive lawsuit and several Congressional hearings, the agency has changed its stance.

The VA announced new suicide figures Tuesday that reveal veterans are killing themselves in record numbers and, as CBS News first discovered and reported last November, young male vets in their 20’s are the most at risk.

The new data was generated by a panel of mental health experts who were brought together by the VA, after pressure from Washington lawmakers, to help analyze the true scoop of the problem.

VA’s Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Michael Kussman, presented the results to the media during a press conference.

The key finding shows that (based on the most recent death stats available) in 2006, male veterans (in the VA system) between the ages of 18 to 29 committed suicide at a rate (45.82 per 100,000) higher than all other veterans and at a rate that is at the least more than double what it is for male civilians the same age.

According to the VA data, the suicide figure for these young vets has also grown since 2002 when the rate of suicide for 18 to 29-year-old male veterans (in the VA system) was 36.54 per 100,000.

“We are not surprised by the numbers,” said Paul Sullivan, the executive director for Veterans for Common Sense, the non-profit advocate group that sued the VA last year calling for an overhaul of the system. Sullivan says suicide is a serious issue for those who have served in the military and he claims the VA has had a pattern of under estimating how big the problem really is.

Last year, CBS News launched a five-month investigation after being told that the VA had no records showing how many veterans were dying of suicide. In an interview with Chief Investigative Correspondent Armen Keteyian, the VA’s head of mental health, Dr. Ira Katz, said “there is no epidemic of suicide in VA.”

That same sentiment was echoed this week by Dr. Kussman despite the latest findings. The VA does, however, plan to take several steps in the coming months to beef up its already growing suicide prevention efforts. The panel made several recommendations on how the agency can do that including having more staff training, more community outreach and starting a gun-safety program for vets who have children.

Since last July, the VA has been operating a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline, 1-800-273-TALK, which has received more than 62,000 calls to date.

Suicide Warning Signs:

Here are key suicide warning signs to watch out for, according to the VA:

 Talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
 Trying to get pills, guns, or other ways to harm oneself
 Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide
 Hopelessness
 Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
 Acting in a reckless or risky way
 Feeling trapped, like there is no way out
 Saying or feeling there’s no reason for living

By Pia Malbran
© MMVIII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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DragNet's picture
Submitted by DragNet on Thu, 09/11/2008 - 7:44pm.

Could it be that the atrocities they are forced to witness or participate come back to haunt them? Just asking... I saw a lot of this after our "heroes" from Vietnam came home. You see, all that crap about Mc cain being a "hero"....what's a hero in the wrong war?
Making you think twice......

SouthernBelle's picture
Submitted by SouthernBelle on Thu, 09/11/2008 - 11:27pm.

You have NO idea what you're talking about. You need to take your foul mouth somewhere else. Stay off the Veterans' posts, you have no business being here. Keep talking and I'll talk to you like DollarBoinker$$age. I don't put up with obnoxious talk about Veterans. The fact that they were called into action by OUR PRESIDENT doesn't make them any less heroes. They answered the call, what's your excuse?!

SouthernBelle, GRACE is a VIRTUE

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